HC Deb 07 April 1970 vol 799 c223
18. Mr. Newens

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what was the amount of housing subsidy given in the last year for which figures are available to the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

Mr. Freeson

About £669,000 in 1969–70, Sir.

Mr. Newens

Do not those figures show quite clearly that the savage attacks being made by the Tory-dominated London Borough of Waltham Forest Council on local government services in that borough, consistently blamed on the Government, are totally unjustified? Is he aware of the very serious housing problem which will exist in years to come unless something definite is done about the planning of future housing development in Waltham Forest?

Mr. Freeson

Yes, Sir. It has been the increasing practice in recent times for Conservative spokesmen in many boroughs—not all of them, but in many—to blame difficulties on the problem of heavy costs. It should be stated that more assistance is being given than has ever been given before. In the borough referred to there has been an increase of two-thirds. The figure in 1964 was £225,000.

Mr. Silvester

Would the hon. Gentleman also admit, however, that despite the increase in housing subsidy, the charge to the rates as a result of the increase in the rate of interest has meant that the rate charge has more than doubled in the period for which he quoted figures?

Mr. Freeson

The rate charge has not doubled. The hon. Gentleman is confusing two things. The main problem facing certain authorities—not all, but certain of them—is the problem of refinancing existing debt on past schemes. This does not affect the cost, or the subsidy towards the cost, of completed schemes. It is at a notional level of 4 per cent. interest charges.